Dave Seter

Fata Morgana in a Field of Tarweed

You might expect to see Fata Morgana,
an upside-down ship refracted on the ocean,
but not on land, not a ship carrying crude oil
overturned among not amber waves of grain
but wastrel thin stems of hayfield tarweed.

But cresting a ridge that’s exactly what I smell—
overtones of automotive repair shop—
a familiar scent from my weekday habitat,
oily, pungent, a scent exuded by a plant
harvested by Native Americans for seed.

A wreck myself in the heat hiking, I watch
land shimmer like the ocean’s surface.
A hundred degrees, and near neon flowers,
sticky, resinous, greet me like pompoms,
cheering me on, exuding their creosote sweat.

Published in California Quarterly Vol 46 No 1 (Spring 2020)